MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — Seven years, 78 recoveries.
It’s not in the thousands, but when you look at the task of finding a very small piece of metal in the miles and miles of beaches along the Grand Strand coastline, Myrtle Beach resident Matthew Fry’s work as a ring finder is impressive.
Fry, 60, has been using his “state of the art” metal detector equipment since late 2014 to help tourists and residents alike find their lost rings on beaches, roads, parks and almost anywhere he can put his $1500 equipment to good use.
Fry is apart of a global network called the Ring Finders, a group of metal detector enthusiasts who find lost rings for others in their free time.
If you’ve lost your ring and want to utilize Fry’s services, the Ring Finders website is the best way to reach him. Fry said his odds of finding something are about 7 out of 10, but the environment can make a difference.
“It’s pretty good odds when you look at it,” Fry said. “Any time you add water to it, it takes that down.”
If a ring is lost in the ocean, which often happens in a tourist hotspot like Myrtle Beach, Fry said he likes to start his searches at low tide. Low tide gives him a better chance of finding a ring rather than at high tide, when the waves reach more of the shore. Fry spent a few hours going back on forth along the same stretch of beach looking for a ring, making sure he hits every spot he can in the area where someone has lost a ring.
So how much does it cost? Fry said he works on a reward basis, which typically range from $100-$200, any more than that he considers generous. But if the ring isn’t found, he asks for a $30 fee to cover gas and other expenses.
Out of the 78 recoveries, Fry remembers two vividly.
Fry once found a wedding band for an man in Arizona. The wedding band had been a gift from his late father, to be used on his wedding day. Fry found it within two hours.
“I’m not a small guy,” Fry laughed. “He gave me a hug, started crying on my shoulder and squashed me like a bug.”
Another search Fry remembered was an engagement ring that one woman in Myrtle Beach accidentally left on the top of her car. Fry said it was such a difficult search due to it being on a road, where many other metals are present that can alert the equipment. When he found the ring, the woman cried in relief.
The Ring Finders network spans across 26 countries, and started with Vancouver man Chris Turner. With all finders combined, the network has made over 10,000 recoveries to date according to the website.
“You lost it, we’ll find it,” the website reads at the top.
Fry said that the work he does tends to be very emotional for the people involved.
Every ring has a story to it,” Fry said. “Our goal is to make sure that story continues.”